Introduction: Make Your Own Mini Vortex Cannon!

When you started this project, did you ever think that you were actually going to be building a doughnut maker?

Well you will be in a way...

Normally it would be almost impossible to reach out and grab a ball of air and then throw it where you wanted it to go, but that is exactly what you are going to be able to do here!

A vortex ring is kind of like a little doughnut-shaped tornado. When the air inside the cup gets quickly forced out through a small hole, it starts to swirl in a very organized way.

This swirling doughnut-shaped volume of air can now be aimed and sent in any direction you choose.

Let's get building!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Your kit includes:

- One 18 oz. plastic drinking cup with a precut hole.**

- One latex balloon.

- A length of red sealing tape.

Items you will supply:

- A pair of sharp scissors (little hands will need help with these).

- A felt marker.

- A U.S. quarter.

Step 2: Partially Inflate Your Balloon.

Blow a small amount of air into your balloon, but don't tie off the balloon yet. Instead, just twist the stem of the balloon to hold this small amount of air inside temporarily.

Step 3: Trace Around the Quarter With a Felt Marker.

Center the quarter on the top of the partially inflated ballon and trace around it with a felt marker.

Step 4: Your Completed Circle.

Step 5: Deflate and Flatten the Balloon in Preparation for Cutting.

Step 6: Carefully Cut Along the Felt Marker Line.

With the balloon flattened, the felt mark will appear as an arc. Cut along this arc, cutting two layers at the same time.

Step 7: Check Your Scissor Work.

Check that when you pull open the balloon at the top you have a quarter-sized hole.

Step 8: Prepare to Tie a Knot in the Stem of the Balloon.

Step 9: Gently Tug on the Knot Until It Is Secure.

Don't over-tighten the knot. You will be using this as your handle when you get ready to fire the cannon.

Step 10: Get the Drinking Cup Ready.

A quarter-sized hole has been pre-cut for you in the bottom of the plastic drinking cup.

**If you are supplying your own cup, trace a circle around the US quarter on the bottom of the cup and carefully cut a hole.

Step 11: Stretch the Balloon Over the Top of the Cup.

By placing your fingers inside the hole in the top of the balloon, carefully stretch the balloon over the top of the cup .

Step 12: Prepare to Seal the Balloon to the Sides of the Cup.

Step 13: Seal the Balloon to the Cup

Using the provided tape, wrap the cup ensuring the tape seals the cut edge of the balloon to the cup as evenly as possible.

Step 14: Your Mini Vortex Cannon Is Now Complete!

While keeping a firm hold on the cup, pull back on the stem of the balloon.

Without letting go of the cup, release the stem of the balloon with a SNAP.

You've just launched your first vortex ring!

How far do you think it traveled? How strong is it? Can you think of experiments to test your guesses?

Step 15: Want to Know More?

Follow this link to a wonderful Science Friday posting with more detailed information and ideas for experiments you can do with your vortex cannon: